After travelling for twenty-nine hours (plus a loss of five to Sir Sanford Fleming’s invention) aboard planes, trains, (ours actually split in two during the trip from London and went in separate directions) and a cab ride piloted by a maniac from Hell’s own NASCAR, we finally made it to Southhampton, England. I can’t honestly say that we are totally in one piece as I believe we left our consciousness somewhere over the North Atlantic. The Husband, never one for sleeping while en route, was the ironman amongst us by staying vertical for the entire day plus hours trip. Sleep is definitely wasted on the young. By 7:30pm, both of us were passed out in front of the telly (when in Britain!) watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. Apparently, Sheldon and the gang are incredibly popular over here.
We had a couple of hours to kill before heading over to the ship, so we spent our Sunday morning meandering through the lovely port city of Southhampton. I had forgotten what “blue lawed” Sundays are like. While the city did start to stir at around 11:00am, there was a contented hush that hovered over our early walk. The park, which is all abloom with spring blossoms, was sprinkled with young families and happy couples taking in the lovely weather. The British really do understand their flowers and they take their gardens very seriously. There is such ordered chaos to the gardens that it just works. I love thinking about the patience involved in such an endeavour. Imagine planting perennial wildflowers in the fall without the satisfaction of seeing the colour displays until spring.
Today’s Southampton is much more an active college town than it is home to much industry. There is a weird fascination here with anything involving The Titanic and a small cottage industry has sprung up around it. While I understand that this was the very last place that the doomed vessel saw land, I’m not entirely certain why the city takes pride in such a dubious distinction. There are shops all throughout the downtown core that sell Titanic shlock and we did pass by two separate monuments honouring the ship’s crew, one for the officers who remained at their posts, and one for the musicians who stayed in place and legendarily played Nearer My God to Thee as the ship sank. We walked all over the area to find the latter which is about the size of a medium-sized flat screen. A true fool’s errand.
I kind of get it. Titanic does hold some mystical sway over the seafaring types. There are also the romantics out there who think that Rose losing Jack on that ice floe is love incarnate, but I find it unnerving as hell to be thinking of the most famous of all ocean disasters just as I am about to embark on a ship for twelve days. That is some kind of sick irony.
The walls of the old medieval city have been smartly incorporated with the modern architecture. There are ruins and archways everywhere. It is a fascinating place that is almost a thousand years old. When we dig up stuff in Toronto it either has a link to Native Canadians or is a ninety-year-old sewer pipe. We happened upon the location of Jane Austen’s home. Crazy as it sounds, that really did excite me. The thought that this could have been the place where she conceived of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy gave me tingles. The Husband and Twin Son looked at me and Twin Son’s Better Half with a complete lack of understanding as to why this mattered but I just shrugged and said: “It’s a girl thing.” She nodded at me with a knowing affirmation.
And so…we are now aboard what we hope will be a better experience than those who boarded Titanic endured. The meds have been taken and there are no icebergs in sight.